How to Choose the Right Interior Design Degree Program Midland City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior design college near Midland City AL, it's time to start the process of selecting a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's essential that you obtain the appropriate training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam as well. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are reviewing before you make your final selection. But where do you begin? Some prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design colleges near their home and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are important issues when making a determination, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be taken into account also. We will discuss those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are reviewing later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class choices are offered.
Interior Design vs Interior Decoration
Often people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of training required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. On the other hand, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Bachelor's or Associate Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are educated to make work or residential areas functional as well as attractive. On many projects they may work together with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad categories that an interior designer in Midland City AL may specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on new construction and existing homes. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one specific room, for example bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Design. When working on public or commercial areas, designers frequently focus predominantly on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but take notice of both. For instance, business meeting rooms and reception areas are spaces where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for hospitals and banks might concentrate more on functionality over looks as the primary consideration.
There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. They need to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From choosing carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Midland City AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.
Interior Designer Degrees
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to acquire the training necessary to launch your new career in Midland City AL. Your decision will no doubt be driven by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you opt to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination required in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Below are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical facets of the trade required to become a designer. They are the minimum degree needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced design training after attaining the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer alternatives in specialized majors in general areas such as residential bathrooms or business offices. Many students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are primarily for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs vary in length but are generally completed in 3 to 5 years.
To work as a professional and use the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Colleges
For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Midland City AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have hectic schedules that make attending classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For many students online colleges may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized accrediting organization, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the dedication to obtain your degree without the confines of a physical classroom environment, then an online interior design school may be the right alternative for you.
Topics to Ask Interior Designer Schools
When you have chosen the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the task of evaluating your college options. Location will be a critical factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Midland City AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are prepared to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your choices also. But picking the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should consider also, such as the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and subsequently choose the right degree program.
Is the Interior Design School Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are outstanding, it might also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Midland City AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from providing an exceptional education, the Midland City AL program you select should also provide the proper education to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly need some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are sought after. It might also signify that the school has a large network of Midland City AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Midland City AL schools you are looking at and find out what type of assistance they provide. Many of interior design schools provide financial aid to their incoming students. Some schools offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. It must be stressed again that enrolling in an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Midland City AL colleges you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Midland City home, go to the college and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Midland City AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Pick the Best Midland City Interior Design Program
Picking the right interior design school is a critical initial step toward starting your career in this artistic and rewarding occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a specific area of study is a difficult job no matter what field you have decided on. As with any endeavor to receive a higher education, there are several things to think about before choosing a course, program or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the field. However it is still imperative that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations presented in this article, you will be able to effectively review and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midland City AL.